Ecommerce Accounting for Different Business Models: Dropshipping vs. Warehousing

Ecommerce Accounting for Different Business Models: Dropshipping vs. Warehousing


Running an ecommerce business requires careful management of various aspects, including inventory, sales, and finances. Two popular business models in the ecommerce industry are dropshipping and warehousing. Each model comes with its own set of advantages and challenges, especially when it comes to accounting practices. In this article, we will explore the key differences in ecommerce accounting for these two business models, providing insights for entrepreneurs and business owners to make informed decisions.

Dropshipping Model

Dropshipping is a business model where entrepreneurs act as intermediaries between customers and suppliers. The key advantage of dropshipping is that businesses don’t need to hold inventory themselves. Instead, when a customer places an order, the product is shipped directly from the supplier to the customer. From an accounting perspective, dropshipping simplifies inventory management and has a direct impact on cost of goods sold (COGS).

In dropshipping, determining COGS can be relatively straightforward. Since the products are sourced directly from suppliers, the cost of each item is known at the time of sale. This allows the business owner to calculate the exact COGS by multiplying the cost per unit from the supplier by the number of units sold. This approach ensures accurate financial reporting and helps in setting competitive pricing strategies.

Accounting Considerations for Dropshipping

While dropshipping simplifies inventory management, it does bring a unique accounting challenge related to shipping costs. Since the supplier handles the shipping process, businesses need to consider whether to include shipping costs in the product price or separately report them as an expense. Understanding the impact of these choices on profitability is crucial.

In addition, dropshipping businesses should also track any fees or commissions charged by the suppliers for using their platform or processing payments. These expenses, along with any advertising or marketing costs incurred, need to be carefully recorded to accurately measure the overall profitability of the business.

Another important aspect of dropshipping accounting is maintaining accurate records of customer returns. Some suppliers may offer return policies, and businesses need to account for potential refunds or exchanges. Recording these transactions separately helps in evaluating the true profitability of the business and maintaining transparency in financial statements.

Warehousing Model

Unlike dropshipping, the warehousing model involves storing inventory in-house. With this model, businesses procure products from suppliers and hold them in their own warehouse or storage facility. This approach gives entrepreneurs greater control over inventory management but also introduces additional complexities in accounting practices.

Accounting Considerations for Warehousing

One key difference when it comes to accounting for the warehousing model is the need to track inventory levels accurately. Entrepreneurs must regularly reconcile physical inventory with their accounting records to ensure that the balance sheets reflect the actual value of inventory on hand. This requires conducting regular physical inventory counts and adjusting accounting records accordingly.

Moreover, the warehousing model introduces the concept of carrying costs. These costs include warehousing fees, insurance, utilities, and employee wages involved in managing the inventory. Accounting for these carrying costs is crucial to obtain an accurate picture of the overall profitability of the business. Businesses must allocate these expenses properly among products to determine the true cost of each item sold.

Impact of Warehousing on Cash Flow

One factor that sets warehousing apart from dropshipping is its impact on cash flow. Since businesses need to purchase inventory upfront and hold it in their warehouse until it is sold, the cash flow cycle is generally longer. Entrepreneurs should carefully manage their cash flow to account for inventory costs, ensuring they have enough working capital to cover expenses until the products are sold.

Furthermore, the warehousing model necessitates anticipating customer demand and ordering appropriate quantities to fulfill orders without overstocking or creating shortages. This requires effective inventory forecasting and planning to maintain a healthy cash flow and optimize order fulfillment.

Choosing the Right Accounting Software

Regardless of the business model chosen, investing in a robust accounting software is essential for ecommerce businesses. While there are numerous software options available, it is crucial to select one that suits the specific needs of the business.

For dropshipping businesses, accounting software that offers seamless integration with suppliers and platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce is advantageous. This integration facilitates automated order and inventory management, streamlines financial reporting, and minimizes the margin for error.

In contrast, warehousing businesses require accounting software that provides comprehensive inventory management features, such as tracking stock levels, generating purchase orders, and monitoring carrying costs. The software should also seamlessly integrate with other tools, like customer relationship management systems, to ensure accurate and up-to-date financial information.


Ecommerce accounting plays a vital role in the success of any online business. Whether operating under the dropshipping model or the warehousing model, entrepreneurs must carefully consider the unique accounting considerations and challenges that arise. By understanding the differences in inventory management, cost of goods sold, and cash flow, business owners can make informed decisions and select appropriate accounting practices. Additionally, choosing the right accounting software can streamline operations and provide accurate financial information critical for making strategic business decisions.


Q: What is dropshipping?

A: Dropshipping is a business model where entrepreneurs act as intermediaries between customers and suppliers, sourcing products directly from suppliers and shipping them to customers without holding inventory.

Q: What is warehousing?

A: Warehousing is a business model where businesses procure products from suppliers and store them in their own warehouse or storage facility.

Q: How does dropshipping impact accounting practices?

A: Dropshipping simplifies inventory management and allows for straightforward calculation of cost of goods sold (COGS) by multiplying the cost per unit from the supplier by the number of units sold.

Q: What accounting challenges are specific to dropshipping?

A: Dropshipping businesses need to consider accounting for shipping costs, fees or commissions charged by suppliers, advertising expenses, and customer returns.

Q: How does warehousing impact accounting practices?

A: Warehousing introduces the need for accurate tracking of inventory levels, accounting for carrying costs, and careful management of cash flow due to the longer cash flow cycle.

Q: What are carrying costs in the warehousing model?

A: Carrying costs include warehousing fees, insurance, utilities, and employee wages involved in managing inventory.

Q: What accounting software is suitable for dropshipping businesses?

A: Accounting software that integrates with suppliers and platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce is advantageous for dropshipping businesses.

Q: What accounting software is suitable for warehousing businesses?

A: Warehousing businesses require accounting software with comprehensive inventory management features and seamless integration with other tools, such as customer relationship management systems.


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